Ways to Stay Engaged with Your Team While Working from Home

Many software teams were forced to work remotely because of the onset of the global pandemic of COVID-19. Months in, most teams have now found their pace and made their peace with it. Hopefully, you’ve gotten comfortable and set a routine for yourself in your new work-from-home setup.

But are you engaging enough with your colleagues? Or are your conversations limited to virtual meetings and video calls? It’s important to have other ways of staying connected with your team.

As an organization, it is important to realize that however close-knit or small your team may be, not having a proper open channel of communication may make people feel out of the loop. In my article published at Testrail blog, I have discussed some tips on how to keep yourself and your team engaged when working from home.

Bump up communication

Before, it may have been enough for the manager to have one-on-one conversations with team members once a month, but our new remote situation calls for a little more. Managers should increase the frequency as well as the quality of the conversations they have with their teams. Strive to understand what teams are struggling with, remove their impediments, and ensure a smooth workday for each person.

As a team member, you too now have the responsibility to stay in touch with your peers more often. It is important for you to participate more in conversations with others rather than just being a spectator in your group chats or calls. A simple greeting and an update about what you are working on today is a good start that helps others peek into your day, and it increases the chances of their doing the same.

Provide clear directions

Managers and leaders need to focus now more than ever on setting up open lines of communication within teams. Give clear directions about what is expected of everyone, share what you feel about their work in the form of constructive feedback, and ask them their opinions. It is important to be empathetic and understanding and to have a listening ear.

In the middle of this chaos, it is important for people to have specific instructions, tasks, and goals so that they can focus on achieving objectives and have some structure to their days. Achieving these small tasks will make their time more productive and motivate them to get more done!

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Tips to write better Bug Reports

Writing defect reports is a constant part of a tester’s daily life, and an important one too! How you report the bugs you find plays a key role in the fate of the bug and whether it’s understood and resolved or ends up being deferred or rejected.

It is imperative for every tester to communicate the defects they find well. In my article published at TestRail blog, I discuss four simple tips to help you write better bug reports.

Study past bug reports

If you are new to your team or new to testing itself, the best way to learn about good bug reporting is to read the team’s past bug reports. Try to understand the bugs and see if you could reproduce them. 

By doing this exercise you learn the best way to present bugs so that the team can understand them. You’ll get a feel for the business language and the project’s jargon to be able to describe features and modules.You may also see some imperfections in the past reports, so you can think about how to improve them and what other information would be useful to include.

Create your own game plan

Create a shortcut for yourself, like writing down a summary or title of each bug you find as you go about testing and saving the screenshot. When you get down to reporting, you can quickly fill out the steps, as well as expected and actual results, and attach the saved screenshots. Doing this could be faster and save you the effort of repeating steps just to get the needed screenshots and logs. Continue Reading–>

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4 Exit Criteria your User Stories must have

Planning and developing new features at the fast pace of agile is a hard game. Knowing when you are really done and ready to deliver is even harder.

Having predetermined exit criteria helps you be able to make the decision that a feature is truly ready to ship. In my article published at TestRail Blog, I compiled a list of exit criteria you must add to your user story to make it easy to bring conformity and quality to all your features.

All Tasks Are Completed

This first one sounds obvious, but it may not be. I still see many teams struggling with getting their testing done within the sprint. Developers work on a user story and deem it done, while testers are left to play catch-up in the next sprint.

Put that practice to an end once and for all by making sure that no user story can be proclaimed done without having all tasks under it completed, including development tasks, testing tasks, design and review tasks, and any other tasks that were added to the user story at the beginning.

Ensuring all tasks are completed in a sprint also mandates that you begin thinking in depth about each user story and the tasks necessary for each activity to be completed, so that you do not miss out on anything at the end.

Tests Are Automated Whenever Possible

As our agile teams move toward continuous delivery and adopting DevOps, our testing also needs to be automated and made a part of our pipelines. Ensuring that test automation gets done within the sprint and is always up to pace with new features is essential.

By having test automation tasks be a part of a user story delivery, you can keep an eye out for opportunities to automate tests you are creating, allocate time to do that within the sprint, and have visibility of your automation percentages.

I have used the following exit criteria:

  • At a minimum, regression tests for the user story must be added to the automation suite
  • At least 50% of tests created for the user story must be automated
  • Automated regression must be run at least once within the sprint

Depending on what your automation goals are, decide on a meaningful standard to apply to all your user stories.

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Raise your Exploration Game!

Exploration is an integral part of testing. Exploring the application is a great strategy for learning about how it works, finding new information and flows, and discovering some unique bugs too! 

Many testers perform exploratory testing as a matter of course, and agile teams may make it an integral part of their tasks. But how can you up your exploration game? Simply going around the application and looking or clicking here and there surely cannot be called creative exploration.

In my article published at Testrail blog, I outline what do you need to do to bring structure to your exploratory tests and get the most useful information out of them?

Image Source- xenonstack.com

Designate time for exploration

As we get into the flow of agile and its fast-moving sprints, we focus on testing tasks for each user story and are constantly thinking of what needs to be done next. But with minimal documentation and limited time to design tests, it is imperative to understand that just executing the written or scripted tests will not be enough to ensure the feature’s quality, correctness, and sanity.

Exploratory testing needs to be counted as a separate task. You can even add it to your user story so that the team accounts for the time spent on it and recognizes the effort.

Testers can use the time to focus on the feature at hand and try out how it works, its integrations with other features, and its behavior in various unique scenarios that may or may not have been thought of while designing the scripted tests. Having exploratory testing as a task also mandates that it be done for each and every feature and gives testers that predefined time to spend on exploration. 

In my testing days, this used to be the most creative and fun aspect of my sprints, and it resulted in great discoveries, questions, insights, and defects!

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Top Cross Browser Testing Challenges and How to Overcome them via Automation

Have you ever wondered how to successfully automate your cross-browser tests? With the number and type of mobile and tablet devices available in the market increasing daily and the crazy combination of browser types and browser versions making things even more complicated, if you are a website or web app developer then making sure your application renders and functions correctly on all those combination of browsers, devices and platforms is often enough to make you want to pull out your hair! Add things like compatibility and browser support for IE11 to the mix and things can get pretty tense. However, with the recent advancements in cross browser test accelerator technologies today we can perform these cross browser tests more reliably and more extensively than ever before.

Before we delve deeper into different approaches to automate your cross browser testing efforts, let’s first see what Cross Browser Testing is all about, why performing cross platform compatibility testing is often inadequate because of the various challenges associated with it, how to mitigate these challenges via test automation and finally, all the features to look for when comparing some of the best cross browser testing tools to automate such testing efforts.

What is Cross Browser Testing?

Cross Browser Testing is the type of testing where we verify to ensure that an application works as expected across different browsers, running on different operating systems and device types. In other words, by performing this type of functional testing a tester checks the compatibility of a website or web app across all supported browser types. Thus, by conducting specialized browser testing, you can ensure that the website / web app is able to deliver an optimal user experience, irrespective of the browser in which it is viewed or accessed.

Major Challenges with Cross-Browser Testing

Let us face it! Testing a web application across all major browser/device/OS platform combinations can be a seriously daunting task. One of the major pain-point with performing thorough Cross Browser Testing is that your testing team would have to test the same website or web application across all the different browsers, operating systems and mobile devices. This is when each browser uses their own different technology to render HTML. Mentioned below are some of the major aspects that make cross browser testing challenging.

1. It is IMPOSSIBLE to test in All Browser Combinations

Let’s assume that your contract with the client mandates that the website or web application being developed should support Chrome, Safari, Firefox, Opera, and Internet Explorer on Windows, macOS, and Linux operating systems. While this may rather seem a little too formidable at first, it actually is pretty manageable:

macOS: 4 Browsers (Chrome, Safari, Firefox, Opera)

Windows: 4 Browsers (Internet Explorer, Chrome, Firefox, Opera)

Linux: 3 Browsers (Chrome, Firefox, Opera)

That’s a total of 11 browser combinations.

But not all your end users are expected to be using the very latest version of each of these browsers. So it is often safe to test using at least the latest 2 versions of each browser.

macOS: 8 Browsers (Chrome, Safari, Firefox, Opera)

Windows: 8 Browsers (Internet Explorer, Chrome, Firefox, Opera)

Linux: 6 Browsers (Chrome, Firefox, Opera)


That’s a total of 22 browser types.

Now that we have taken the latest 2 versions of each browser type into consideration how about the latest versions of each OS? Surely, people upgrade their OS far less often than they upgrade their browsers, right? So to be safe, let’s test across the latest 3 versions of each OS platform.

macOS Catalina: 8 Browsers (Chrome, Safari, Firefox, Opera)

macOS Mojave: 8 Browsers (Chrome, Safari, Firefox, Opera)

macOS High Sierra: 8 Browsers (Chrome, Safari, Firefox, Opera)

Windows 10: 8 Browsers (Internet Explorer, Chrome, Firefox, Opera)

Windows 8.1: 8 Browsers (Internet Explorer, Chrome, Firefox, Opera)

Windows 8: 8 Browsers (Internet Explorer, Chrome, Firefox, Opera)

Ubuntu 20.04: 6 Browsers (Chrome, Firefox, Opera)

Ubuntu 19.10: 6 Browsers (Chrome, Firefox, Opera)

Ubuntu 18.04: 6 Browsers (Chrome, Firefox, Opera)


That’s a total of 66 browser combinations.

What started out as a manageable list is now already a substantial and daunting list of browser combinations to test against even for teams with a dedicated team of a good number of QA specialists. Add to the mix the possibility of testing across 32x and 64x variations of each OS type, testing across various possible screen resolutions and the fact that you’d need to retest across each of these combinations every time there is a bug fix, it is easy to feel frustrated and even give up!

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Testing is like…… Yoga

This post is inspired by the MOT bloggers club initiative to write about analogies to testing in real life!

Being a tester at heart, I always see things from a testers eyes and find relevance in testing in my day-to-day life. In the past I have thought and spoken about Testing being like… Cooking and also used analogies of Testing equating to Travelling when explaining the Software Testing lifecycle in my Tester Bootcamps and trainings. Lately I have gotten into Yoga and I now see how Testing is like Yoga in many ways…….

  • You can start anytime and anywhere you want, no matter your background.
  • You can learn it yourself — Researching and Reading will help but Practice is key!
  • You will learn better when you take help from a teacher / mentor / guru Or when you practice with a team
  • Even though on the surface level, people may think of it as one skill, there are many types of testing, just like there are of Yoga
    • Hatha Yoga, Vinyasa Yoga, Pranayama (Breathing exercises yoga), Pre-natal yoga and the fusion kind – Power Yoga
    • The same way we have Functional testing, Performance testing, Usability testing, Security testing, Automated testing and so on
    • You can dive into any one in-depth or have a taste of all of them!
    • There is one for every team, context and need- you need to find the right match(es)
  • Testing , like Yoga – is context-dependent
    • Just like Yoga for weight loss may be different than Yoga for an expectant mother, Yoga for a beginner may be different from Yoga for an athlete recovering from an injury; so is the case of Testing.
    • Testing for a medical application will be vastly different from Testing of a Car racing mobile game or testing for a banking website.
    • The basics and the fundamental concepts remain the same and apply equally to all though!
  • To a person looking from outside, it may not mean much in the beginning
    • Like, to a person looking at you holding a Yoga pose – It may not seem like you are doing much. But to the one experiencing it, it make the world of a difference.
Holding a Yoga pose is harder than it looks

And finally, for both Testing and Yoga—

The value is not realized in one day or one session. It is a prolonged effort, requiring consistent practice, patience and persistence.
Overtime people who see the changes and experience the difference come to appreciate the real benefits —- of both Yoga and Testing!! 🙂 🙂

************

Hope you enjoyed my take on Testing is like ….. Challenge. Please share your thoughts too!

Here is the link to follow the MoT Blogger Club group for many more interesting takes on this Challenge

https://club.ministryoftesting.com/t/bloggers-club-june-july-2020-testing-is-like/39734/8

Cheers

Nishi

<Image Credits – WebMD.com , youtube.com >

Things to Do Before the Sprint Planning Meeting

Scrum teams get together to decide on the work items for their next sprint in the sprint planning meeting. But is that the beginning of the conversation for the upcoming sprint, or are there some things that should be done before that?

In my latest article for the TestRail blog, find out what you should be doing before your sprint planning meeting even starts so that you can help make the next sprint successful.

Prioritize the backlog

Prioritize!

The first and most important consideration is to have a live product backlog that is up to date and prioritized with changing business needs. The product owner must have a constant eye on adding, removing, editing and updating items in the product backlog. When the time approaches to get into planning the next sprint, the product manager must bring to the table a list of the highest-value items that the team can pick from.

Research features

The product owner must spend time researching each of the features and trying to lay out in simple terms the actual need they each describe. They may use bulleted points or simple sentences to explain the feature in some detail. We see this happening mostly during or after the sprint planning meeting, but if any requirements are known before the meeting, the product owner can get a head start.

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Fighting Defect Clusters in Software Testing

Defects tend to cluster in some areas of the software under test. It may happen due to higher complexity, algorithms, or a higher number of integrations in a few constrained segments of the software.

These defect clusters can be tricky, both to find and to deal with. Testers need to be on constant alert for ways to isolate defect clusters and devise ways to overcome them, fight those defects and move on to new clusters.

In my article for Gurock blog, I discussed some ways to fight Defect Clusters in Software Testing:

Locating Defect Clusters

Most defects tend to cluster in certain areas of your software. It is one of the seven testing principles. Many testers intuitively know of these defect-prone areas, but we can still strive to be on the lookout for clusters of defects in a number of ways, like utilizing

Metrics

Using metrics like defect density charts or module-wise defect counts, we can examine the history of defects that have been found and look for areas, modules, or features with higher defect density. This is where we should begin our search for defect clusters. Spending more time testing these areas may lead us to more defects or more complex use cases to try out.

For example, the chart below shows that Module 4 has the most defects, so it would be smart to continue concentrating on that module in the future.

History

Use the defect management system and the history of the software to go through older defects, and try to replicate them in the system. You will get to know the system’s history, where it broke and how it works now. You may learn a lot about the software and find many new areas to test.

Experience

A tester’s intuition, experience and history with the product is by far the best way to find defect clusters. Lessons learned by experienced teammates should be shared with new coworkers so that the knowledge can be passed on, utilized and improved upon by exercising these defect-prone areas with new perspectives.

Fighting Defect Clusters

Defect clustering follows the Pareto rule that 80% of the defects are caused by 20% of the modules in the software. It’s imperative for a tester to know which 20% of modules have the most defects so that the maximum amount of effort can be spent there. That way, even if you don’t have a lot of time to test, hopefully, you can still find the majority of defects.

Once you know the defect cluster areas, testers can focus on containing the defects in their product in a number of ways. Continue Reading—>

Are you a Good Agile Leader?

Agile leaders are supposed to get the maximum amount of quality work done with minimum control of the situation. The team constantly needs support and guidance while remaining independent and self-motivated.

How do you get this done within the tight deadlines? Do you have the team’s trust, and do they have yours? How do you know if you are a good leader for your agile team?

In my article for Testrail blog, I discussed the challenges of Agile Leadership and shared some tips for aspiring Agile Leaders to excel in their team management! Here are some areas to focus on:-

Communication

Communication is the backbone of agile. Open, clear and frequent communication breathes life into the agile team.

As an agile leader, you will be required to be big on communication, stressing its need, ensuring it is happening, and keeping it open and constructive at all times. You may even need to get over your own fear or reluctance if you are an introvert! A good agile leader needs to constantly encourage people to work together, discuss issues, and enforce good communication practices.

Vision

As a good agile leader, it is imperative to maintain a clear vision for the project. Since agile requires teams to deliver working software frequently, most of the team’s time is spent concentrating on different tasks and activities to make the release happen.

But since requirements change often, it is easy to lose sight of the overall vision for the project amidst all that chaos. It falls to the leader to keep the team aligned, maintain the overall vision, and help everyone zoom out periodically to look at the bigger picture.

Removing Impediments

A Good Agile Leader

An agile leader is required to be a constant problem solver. They need to look for problems before they happen and resolve them as early as possible.………

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Four Things That Can Sabotage a Sprint

Success and failure are a part of any journey. For agile teams, continuous delivery is the expectation, and that may be a hard thing to achieve. As sprints go on and tasks pile up, we may deter from the path.

Whether your team is beginning their agile journey or are already agile pros, you are bound to encounter a failed sprint at some point.

When do you deem a sprint as failed? Why does a sprint fail? What are the possible reasons, and how can you learn from the mistakes to avoid them in the future? In my article published at TestRail blog – I examine four possible reasons for a failed sprint.

Read the complete article at https://blog.gurock.com/four-things-sabotage-sprint/

Bad Estimation

Estimates cannot be completely accurate every time. But when the agile team fails to see the correct depth or complexity of a task or a user story, the estimates may go haywire, leading to a big diversion from planned timelines within the sprint.

Incoherent Definition of Done

To ensure true completeness, we must list coherent and agreed-upon definitions of done for each type of task we undertake within a sprint, be it development, testing, design, review tasks or test automation. This makes it easier to keep track of the quality of work and get every person’s understanding of the expected work on the same page.

Incomplete Stories

More often than not, user stories being developed in the sprint get stuck at some tricky juncture toward the end. Situations may arise where you reached the last day of the sprint but there are still things holding up the team:

  • Development of the story was completed but testing is still underway
  • Developers and testers paired to conduct tests but some critical issues remain in the feature that need fixing
  • Development and testing are completed but the automation script is yet to be created for regression of the feature (and automation was part of the exit criteria for the user story)
  • Code review is pending, although it is already checked in and working fine
  • Tests for the user story were not added to the test management system even though the tester has performed exploratory tests

Due to any of these reasons or a similar situation, the user story will be incomplete at the end of the sprint. At this point, that feature cannot be deemed fit for release and cannot be counted as delivered.

Technical Debt

In a fast-paced agile environment, we cannot shirk off any part of our work or leave it for later. This becomes technical debt that is hard to pay off. The longer we do not pick up the task, the harder it gets to find the time and spend the effort on it while working on ongoing tasks at the same pace… Continue Reading